Any roach over a pound in weight is a good fish, any roach over two pounds in weight is a very good fish and any roach over three pounds in weight is a fish of a life time. The roach is a small species of fish, which means when you are targeting large ones there is no need to go overboard with the fishing equipment.
You can, if you want, use heavy duty carp fishing equipment to catch large roach, but carp fishing tackle is an overkill. If you want to catch large roach in the Norfolk Broads, and get the most out of the experience and enjoy the “fight to the net” you need to use the lightest gear you can get away with. The fishing tackle I personally use when targeting large roach in the Norfolk Broads comprises:-
Light feeder fishing rod
You can of course use any fishing rod for catching large roach, however if you want to feel the fish and enjoy the battle getting them to the net a light fishing rod is essential. I use a light feeder rod, and the only reason I use this is because I need a little backbone to cast a cage feeder. If I didn’t need a little more oomph to cast the feeder I would use a lighter rod still. That said, my 10 foot Daiwa Ninja feeder rod is quite sensitive and allows me to enjoy playing the fish to my net.
If you are coming to the Norfolk Broads and are thinking of tacking the large roach I would suggest using the lightest fishing rod you have. Some anglers use medium feeder fishing rods, the ones that are ideal for bream, but I think these are a little too heavy for fishing the smaller rivers I fish. Medium sized feeder rods may be suitable for fishing the large Broads (South Walsham, Wroxham, Hickling, Martham etc.) where you need to blast a feeder to the horizon, but they are too much for fishing the River Ant at Dilham, The Thurne at Potter Heigham or the Bure at Coltishall.
Small fixed spool reel
A small fixed spool is the perfect partner to a light feeder rod, and this is what I recommend. I use a Shimano Alivio RC with the 2500 sized spool, however any fixed spool reel this size would work. When it comes to line I use 5lbs breaking strain. If I didn’t need a little extra strength for the cage feeder I would in fact go lighter and use 3lbs – 4lbs. For light feeder fishing 5lbs is ideal and you won’t need anything thicker or stronger. I have been using Daiwa Sensor fishing line for as long as I can remember and I have total faith in it.
I use cage feeders for virtually all of my large roach fishing. I fish the Northern Broads, and I the sections I fish aren’t too tidal. Consequently, the only things that move feeder around I have to deal with is the wind and wash/waves from the boat traffic. I use 20g NGT metal cage feeders and find these are the ideal size to hold the bottom and also allow me to fish fairly light.
The 20g cage feeders are not going to hold bottom on the tidal stretches of the Norfolk Broads, so if you are going to be fishing between Martham and Great Yarmouth you are going to need heavier feeders, and of course thicker/stronger fishing line.
You really don’t need to carry around loads of terminal tackle when feeder fishing for large roach so a big box full of stuff is not necessary. The terminal tackle I carry with me comprises:-
Even though roach are a small species of fish you still need a small landing net to get them on the bank. I am not a fan of hand landing and “swinging in” caught fish as I believe this puts them under more stress and pain than is necessary.
You don’t need a large landing net and a 17” x 19” is more than enough to accommodate the largest roach in the Norfolk Broads. The landing net I use is theMadBite Safe catch and release net. This landing net is foldable for easy transportation and storage, it is tough and durable, it is well made, it dries out quickly and it is affordable too. All things considered this a great landing net.
Many anglers don’t bother with unhooking mats unless they are out to catch large carp or pike. The welfare of the fish should be paramount, regardless of the species or size, therefore I always use a small landing mat when large roach are the target species. I don’t use anything fancy, and there is no need for you to either. As long as it is padded, and you wet it before putting a roach on it, or any fish you happen to catch, is all that matters.
I use the 80 x 45 NGT unhooking mat, and I am very impressed. This unhooking mat is a nice size, folds up for easy storage and transportation, is well padded and also easy on the wallet. This is a great unhooking mat, and one I highly recommend.